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Abstract: This paper is the attempt to provide a novel and original reconstruction of Husserl’s phenomenology, its meaning and scope, on the basis of the two “operative” concepts of Mannigfaltigkeit and Konstitution. It critically engages some current mainstream interpretations of phenomenology and suggests a diﬀerent take on the idea of transcendental phenomenology. Keywords: Operative concepts, multitude, one and many, manifold, constitution, Edmund Husserl
Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them … well, I have others. (Groucho Marx)
I 0. In what follows I would like to consider the somewhat awkward idea of a manifesto as it relates to Husserl’s phenomenology. I will try not to discuss this or that point of Husserl’s phenomenology or submit an alternative reading of this or that text, but rather take the risk of addressing some questions about the peculiarity of phenomenology as such. More precisely, I would like to suggest a diﬀerent way of responding to that question that we have all heard so many times—sometimes friendly, sometimes quite aggressively—from students, friends, colleagues and critics. The question, dreadful and not-so-inevitable, is the following: “What is phenomenology actually all about?”
1. Claudio Majolino is Associate Professor (maître de conference) at the University of Lille and member of the research team CNRS/UMR 8163 “Savoirs, Textes, Langage.” He has published extensively and translated works on Husserl and post-Husserlian phenomenology, philosophy of language, and the history of ontology. His most recent book is De l’expression. Essai sur la 1ère Recherche logique.
The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy XII (2012): 155–82 © Acumen Publishing Ltd. 2013 ISSN: 1533-7472 (print); 2157-0752 (online)
1. One objection may arise quite immediately, namely “What is actually the point of asking such a question?” Especially in a time when our departments are ﬁlled with “phenomenologists,” “post-phenomenologists,” or “anti-phenomenologists.” One could also object that, more or less, we all know something about phenomenology. And when it comes to the explicit question “What is phenomenology?” we all seem to have an answer up our sleeves. Besides, it goes without saying that nothing original is likely to be said on the topic—at least, nothing that we did not know already: nothing that Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty did not already thematize and fully explore; nothing that Schlick, Wittgenstein or Ryle have not already weighed, measured and found wanting; nothing that Gadamer, Lévinas or Derrida have not already nailed to its hidden metaphysical presuppositions and overcome. In sum, one might—quite rightfully—object: why on earth should we inﬂict upon ourselves another rhetorical question about the signiﬁcance of phenomenology? Can we actually do anything else than smuggle some old wine into (not so) new casks and sneak in the umpteenth historical review of some suitable concepts of phenomenology available in the marketplace—while pretending that we are even oﬀering a manifesto? If this were the case, we should simply dismiss the question and remind ourselves that, if any, the actual challenge of our time is “doing phenomenology” not talking about it, let alone providing petty deﬁnitions. As a matter of fact, in the past ﬁfty years, phenomenology has mostly preoccupied itself with a twofold task: overcoming Husserl’s metaphysically ﬂawed transcendental phenomenology; and/ or making the painstakingly detailed descriptions packed into the 55,000 pages of his Nachlaß useful and—whenever possible—consistent with the mainstream of the post-Heideggerian or post-Wittgensteinian theories of being, mind, and language. The shared presupposition of both tendencies is the assumption that the deﬁning principles of the dominant paradigms—both analytical (analytical ontology and philosophy of language) and continental (hermeneutics, deconstruction)—have to set the agenda of phenomenology and indicate its future directions. The most recent interest of phenomenology in cognitive science conﬁrms rather than disproves such a tendency. Scholars are constantly asked to prove that Husserl’s phenomenology and phenomenology in general are able to deal with the most up-to-date issues of our time, thus establishing its right to survive in the intellectual arena of the twenty-ﬁrst century, seducing, with its secret charm, literary criticism, psychoanalysis, gender studies, or, as just mentioned, cognitive science. As for the rest—pre-, proto- or crypto-Heideggerian, quasi-Wittgensteininan or ultra-Brentanian, hyper- or anti-rationalist, last representative of the metaphysics of absolute subjectivity or ﬁrst unconscious coryphaeus of a decentered account of subjectivity—what is interesting in Husserl’s thought amounts to the fact of having somehow foreshadowed (with great sagacity indeed, considering the putative historical, ideological or metaphysical limits of his thought) what others will later see in a more precise and consistent way. Even if this picture of phenomenology is not too far oﬀ the mark, I must admit I ﬁnd it quite unappealing. For I have always liked to think that if Husserl has really
If. However. in trying to answer the predictable question of what phenomenology actually is. As for the ﬁrst move. and so on. another Husserl. the choice is wide: phenomenology is the eidetic science of transcendentally reduced pure consciousness (Husserl). less conventional and more discrete: an “anachronist” and “untimely” thinker—“unzeitgemäss” in a quite Nietzschean sense. we do not already know. If we are to accept the classical distinction—suggested by Eugen Fink—between thematic and operative concepts. as a consequence. behind the conventional picture of the momentous forefather of the groundbreaking (and quite outdated) phenomenological movement that we all know. as it were. it is the study of essences that puts essences back to existence and facticity and allows for an explicit account of the natürlicher Weltbegriﬀ (Merleau-Ponty). in order to ﬁnd out whether this is the case. In that case. MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 157 something to tell us now it has to be something. or a Cartesian quote stranded in the pages of Ideas I. It should make us see— or at least point to—something that actually neither Heidegger’s nor Wittgenstein’s heirs have been able to ﬁgure out. rather than something everybody is talking about. So. writing creepy technical papers on eidetic variation. it is the comprehension eﬀected in the bringing to light (Levinas). in the end. Indeed. in the end. we should run something like an obstacle course. it is the discovery of being as the trans-phenomenal relative-absolute (Sartre). although unappealing. The list might be longer. it is apophainestai tai phanomena—a way to let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself (Heidegger). it would not be that bad if one could discover. to the preliminary draft of a manifesto. we could safely turn back to our old habits. the picture of phenomenology sketched above is the only one available. what is phenomenology actually all about? If addressed at point blank range this question allows for two possible moves. We can either provide a standard deﬁnition or begin with identifying a key notion and use it as a guiding thread. we were to realize that we have dumped everything we have found. sooner or later. and introduce some restrictions from the outset. the next step is to decide whether our key notion has to be chosen from among the former or the latter. with the secret hope of. In other words. one restriction would be enough: on our way to the putative “meaning” of phenomenology we shall dump everything that may sound familiar. pinpoint this or that Husserlian topic and/or keep on applying the phenomenological reduction to rocket science or body painting … or. this time I would deﬁnitively go for the obstacle course. if anything. then the outcome would be sad but clear: there is nothing more to say about phenomenology as a whole. already used to deﬁne or characterize the phenomenological project as a whole. the guiding thread. eschewing historical monuments and dodging contemporary commonplaces. the vicissitudes of the improper. 2.MULTIPLICITY. but since we agreed to proceed under restrictions and drop every ready-made answer. already said and thought. we have to cut it short and take our chances with the second move: individuating the key concept. and. If we want pick it up . It is precisely for this reason that. running into some neglected hints that could always lead.
so that the understanding of the one may modify the standard comprehension of the other. that. and although constantly employed in Husserl’s work it has been mostly overlooked. where “that which shows itself ” becomes the “entity”—instead of Being—and “the way in which it shows itself from itself ” becomes “objectivity”—instead of Abwesenheit. It is so important that Heidegger’s deﬁnition of it (“letting the entity be seen in its objectivity”)2 is nothing but the general deﬁnition of phenomenology (“letting that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself ”) applied to Husserlian phenomenology.158 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO from the list of the thematic concepts.” etc. . both unequally emphasized by the commentators. has nothing of the character of an interpretation and everything of an experimentation. but never really brought together. 2.) but rather identify a network— even small—of mutually related operative concepts whose relations are usually left unnoticed.” Michel Henry’s “life. hastily considered as the fundamental concept of phenomenology (such as Sartre’s “intentionality. 3. GA 20 (Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann. But if we really want to ﬁnd something new in Husserl’s phenomenology according to the restrictive rule “thou shalt not use any of the standard approaches to phenomenology. I will translate sometimes with “multiplicity. ﬁlling the bookshelves of the libraries (and the chapters of many Ph. at close sight.” we clearly have to prefer the operative concepts. It is the concept of Mannigfaltigkeit. if we want to multiply our chances to ﬁnd something new under the phenomenological sun. whose current translation is simply “constitution. the inescapable correlation between consciousness and world. but for my purposes I will limit myself to the two innermost threads—both constantly used by Husserl from his early essays on the philosophy of arithmetic until his death. I seize this opportunity to express my diﬃdence in relation to the so-called “phenomenological hermeneutic” and the legions of “phenomenological interpretations” of this and that. as it should be readily apparent. I am talking about the concept of Konstitution.” sometimes with “manifold”— but whose equivocity should be constantly kept in mind. for reasons that will become apparent later. 97. §6.D. The ﬁrst concept I have in mind is widely considered as one of the most important in Husserl’s phenomenology. givenness. Moreover. dissertations). Prolegomena zur Geschichtre des Zeitbegriﬀs. with living experiences. 3. consciousness. M. The small network I wish to bring to light is composed of two operative concepts—actually. we have a wide choice: phenomenology has to do with intentionality. it is more complex than that. Heidegger. and so on. The trick now is to show how in uncovering the deep relation between these two key-concepts. 71. one is able to reconstruct in a non-standard way the structure and the signiﬁcance of phenomenology as a whole. intuition.” Marion’s “givenness. 1994).3 An operation that.” The second may seem less central for the phenomenological project as a whole. we should try to ﬁnd not just one operative concept.
) appears as meaningful (as having a being and being-so) to a 4.” After having submitted the naive givenness of the appearing “object” ﬁrst to the positional neutralization of the epochē. In sum. ﬁction. things. and so on. Such a meaning is both a Sosein-sinn. and the weakness and diﬃculty attached to this concept are the weakness and diﬃculty inherent in phenomenology as a philosophical method. an imaginary transcendence (such as Emma Bovary or a centaur playing the ﬂute). appears as having a certain meaning (Sinn). as having a determinate form of meaningful identity. Let us ﬁrst begin with the concept of constitution.4 From the Philosophy of Arithmetic to the Crisis. or. ideality.” . The philosophical value of his theory of constitution is the philosophical value of phenomenology as a whole. more precisely. But what does “constitution” mean? One could preliminarily say that constitution is the name given by Husserl both to the performance and the outcome of a host of synthesis and achievements of consciousness in virtue of which something—be it an immanent lived experience (such as a sensation or an intentional act). or an ideality (such as a function of a complex variable or any theorem)—appears and. The Formation of Husserl’s Concept of Constitution (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. and so on are meaningful insofar as they are (or are not) and they are (or are not) in a certain way (or another). persons. Robert Sokolowski once said. they can be identiﬁed. if any “object” whatsoever (lived experience. We now shift from the outcome of a constitution to the performance of constitution itself and its structural features. sometimes re-identiﬁed. or. the second (the reduction) follows it through: it diverts the view from the simple experience of something meaningful. a transcendent thing (such as a table or a house). from the psychological constitution of the early years.MULTIPLICITY. namely the intentional achievements that are responsible for the meaningfulness of such an appearing object. 1964). more generally. “There is no other concept that reﬂects in itself the totality of his [Husserl’s] thought so completely and so well” as the concept of constitution. thing. more precisely. 223: “There is no other concept that reﬂects in itself the totality of his thought so completely and so well. achievements without which such experience would be relatively or totally meaningless. then to the thematic conversion of the phenomenological reduction. as having a certain Seinsweise. The most general and naive name for all the meaningful outcomes of a constitution—as long as the performance of constitution itself is not taken into account—is nothing but “object. MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 159 II 4. idealities. etc. the point of view changes drastically. related to each other. While the former device (the epochē) opens up the way backward from the objective appearance to the subjective appearing. a person (such as me or my friend Daniele). to the later transcendental constitution (both static and genetic). and a Sein-sinn.” but also as existing or non-existing. person. the notion of constitution is declined in a great variety of forms and modalities. Robert Sokolowski. Lived experiences. to the descriptive analysis of the structural features of such experience. ﬁctions. for what is constituted appears not only as “being so-and-so.
While creation gives rise to the Sein and the Sosein of entities (ex nihilo). that is. and the quest for the “roots” or the “true beginnings. is an extremely treacherous one. sub-human. etc. the search for constitution—as it will become clear in his lectures on First Philosophy—often appears to be related with the “Platonic” theme of the rizomata pantos: the roots of all things. 6.160 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO consciousness iﬀ the latter accomplishes certain synthesis (be it passive or active). R. which deals again with the ﬁrst type of objects (types.” on the other. That brings us a ﬁrst element: meaningfulness and constitution are intimately related concepts. rather. it is constituted by the syntheses themselves. constituted “objects” are not subjective constructions built up—somewhat arbitrarily—from otherwise “formless” sensuous materials. in a broader sense. §38). that is. pure and impure essences. On the other hand. we still need to ﬂesh out one last element. One may simply recall that the concept of constitution sketched above should not be conﬂated with that of creation. related this time less to the general features of constitution than to its philosophical motivation. constitution refers simply to their Sein. introducing the idea of layers of sedimentation. the description of the structural features of the synthesis that must be accomplished by any consciousness whatever (human. generalities. Husserl is in fact persuaded that constitutive phenomenology brings with itself. Aufsätze und Vorträge (1911–1921). Husserl. genetic constitution of higher-order objects (active synthesis) and passive genesis of higherorder objects (sedimented synthesis).) from the point of view of their sedimented meaning. or with that of construction. .6 But the idea of connecting the transcendental relationship between meaningfulness of experience and synthesis of consciousness. 1973]. to the meaningfulness of that of which is experienced as the appearance. T. an act of radicalization: it goes emphatically for the “roots” of appearance. 61. 5.and Soseinsinn (ex alio). 5. angelic. They are. and that “genetic constitution” should not to be conﬂated with the “passive genesis” of founded higher order objects (see Husserliana I. literally. Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser Vorträge. etc. Let us recall that Husserl further distinguishes between static and genetic constitution. so good. So we have at least four levels of constitution: static constitution of ideal objects (noetic-noematic correlations) and of individuals as instantiated idealities. in Husserliana XXV. Strasser [The Hague: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. In a narrow sense. then that “object” is said to be constituted. See also E.5 But in order to complete this sketchy presentation of constitution. therefore. 1987). And it often leads Husserl to the rash gesture of overlapping the transcendental distinction between what is constituted and the constituting synthesis to the ontological distinction between relative being (pros allo) and absolute being (kath’auto). Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft. by the consciousness accomplishing the synthesis. that out of which everything sprouts and grows.) in order to experience certain appearances as meaningful. on the one hand. genetic constitution of individualities (passive synthesis). divine. phenomena whose transcendence is meaningful only for a variety of consciousnesses whose experiences are structured in a determinate way. S. Nenon and H. ed. In Husserl’s view. and. Sepp (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. ed. So far. Constitutive analysis is.
2010). MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 161 Such a gesture is unquestionably diﬃcult to countenance. however. Ierna. where the reader. this second moment of Husserl’s treatment of constitution. in Philosophy. but is also connected with the radicalization of phenomenology identiﬁed by Husserl with the so-called quest for the “roots of appearance. related to its philosophical motivation. as far as we are concerned. even though Husserl will later ﬁrmly reject it. I have tried to give my understanding of the matter in a long essay called “La partition du réel: Remarques sur l’eidos. learns that consciousness is that being that “by essential necessity nulla ‘re’ indiget ad existendum”—does not need any “thing” in order to exist. . 6. Jacobs. one of these attempts rests on a very peculiar argument. Such an awkward and metaphysically heavy-handed claim can be understood in many diﬀerent ways7—as many as the arguments mobilized over the years by Husserl in his repeated attempts to justify. ed. make us forget the existence of a bond between the theme of constitution and that of the rizomata pantos—nor the philosophical ambition related to it. Sciences. C. Now. is. in one way or another. its problematic legitimacy. Be that as it may. and is widely considered as one of the most problematic tenets of Husserl’s entire phenomenology—for it seems to lead. from the idea of constitution to the pitfall of transcendental idealism. 573–660. la phantasia. Essays in Commemoration of Edmund Husserl. F. an argument that. Hence the following question arises: is there a way to bring together the concept of constitution and that of “rizomata pantos” without identifying idealistically consciousness and absolute being (and. is nevertheless extremely valuable for at least two reasons. quite inevitably. it indicates explicitly that the notion of constitution is not only related with that of meaningfulness (see above §4). extremely revealing. Mattens (Dordrecht: Springer. interestingly enough. Phenomenology. Husserl asks himself: what is the reason why the being of the real world should be considered as relative. as opposed to the absolute being of consciousness? Since he is not allowed to make use of any metaphysical or ontological 7. We have already mentioned that in the course of his philosophical itinerary Husserl does not simply attempt to justify in diﬀerent ways the idea of an absolute being of consciousness. The argument appears in several texts. He also tries to account for the irreducible diﬀerence between consciousness and world through the concept of constitution. l’eﬀondrement du monde et l’être absolu de la conscience”. correlatively. This pitfall condensed in the somewhat infamous §49 of Ideas I. world and relative being)? But there is also a second reason to insist on the complicity between constitutive analysis and the radicalization of phenomenology—in spite of the cumbersome idealism that Husserl believes he has to defend. as far as we are concerned here. This is because the argument in question bridges explicitly for the ﬁrst time the two concepts we are interested in: constitution and Mannigfaltigkeit. First.MULTIPLICITY.” Rejecting the overly idealistic conclusions fostered by the overlapping of the relations between “constitution/constituted” and “absolute-being/relative-being” should not. fairly surprised. although its canonical formulation can be found in Ideas I. H.
Husserliana III/1. unitarily. it is precisely within the context of a phenomenological description of the modes of constitution responsible for the appearing of the worldly reality whose being Husserl wants desperately to be “relative. because they appear. and self-conﬁrming experiencing consciousness of the same thing. The argument is the following. again respectively. a multiple system of continuous multiplicities of appearances and adumbrations in which all objective moments falling within perception with the characteristic of being themselves given ‘in person’ are adumbrated by determined continuities. Erstes Buch: Allgemeine Einführungin die reine Phänomenologie 1. Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. to make his idealistic point.8 The essence of sense perception thus prescribes that perceptive things structurally appear through series of multiple adumbrations.und Abschattungs-mannigfaltigkeiten.” . 74–5: “In Wesensnotwendigkeit gehört zu einem ‘allseitigen’. Auﬂage – Nachdruck. In other words.” that the two notions of Konstitution and Mannigfaltigkeit appear as intimately related for the ﬁrst time. 1977). Concrete individual transcendences of lower order—a wordy expression to indicate the “things” of which the real world is ultimately made—are necessarily given in sense perception.162 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO assumptions. and of consciousness on the other—a heterogeneity on which rests the sole basis for justifying phenomenologically the ontological asymmetry between world and consciousness. put diﬀerently. §41. That implies a discrepancy. and the eidetic structure of sense perception requires that such things have to appear through adumbrations. Halbband: Text der 1. Or.-3. a structural gap within the mode of givenness of perceptual things between the multiplicity of 8. that objects belonging to the ontological region “thing” are constituted as unities of “continuous multiplicities of appearances and adumbrations”: Of essential necessity there belongs to any “all-sided. Husserl is forced to ground his answer not on a purported diﬀerence between modes of being but on the phenomenological diﬀerence between modes of appearing. in an absolute and relative way. kontinuierlich einheitlich sich in sich selbst bestatigenden Erfahrungsbewußtsein vom selben Ding ein vielfaltiges System von kontinuierlichen Erscheinungs. so that each and every adumbration anticipates and points to the next in an inﬁnite yet intentionally uniﬁed chain of reference (Hinweis). although what is intentionally given is one and the same thing. in denen alle in die Wahrnehmung mit dem Charakter der leibhaften Selbstgegebenheit fallenden gegenstandlichen Momente sich in bestimmten Kontinuitaten abschatten.” continuously. Husserl has to be able to claim that consciousness and world are respectively absolute and relative. Now. From this eidetic state of aﬀairs Husserl draws the conclusion that the phenomenological structure of any being whose mode of appearing is constituted through adumbrations is that of the “unity of a multiplicity” (Einheit einer Mannigfaltigkeit). ed. Schuhmann (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. The phenomenological description should thus detect a structural heterogeneity in the modes of constitution proper to the experience of the real world on the one hand. K.
aggregate. ed. when Husserl provides a loose list of terms considered as synonyms (gleichbedeutend) of multiplicity (Vielheit).” (Mehrheit. the eidetic state of aﬀairs according to which the perceptual thing is constituted as the unity of a Mannigfaltigkeit. as we have already pointed out. already in the Philosophy of the Arithmetic. and see how they are mutually related.) but not Mannigfaltigkeit. Husserl will eventually reject the confusing claim that the relative being of the world follows from the phenomenological discovery of the EM-structure proper to the mode of appearing of perceptual things. let us recall the three main contexts in which Husserl employs the term. So. But what does “Mannigfaltigkeit” mean? The time has come to introduce our second key concept. etc. totality. Hence its mode of being is relative. As a result. Cf. Since we are dealing with an operative concept. It would also be misleading to assume that the same concept is always presupposed—even if unexpressed—behind each and every occurrence of the same term. In some very broad contexts. Mannigfaltigkeit is often used by Husserl simply in the non-technical sense of multiplicity (Vielheit). will still be maintained. However. it would be useless to look for explicit deﬁnitions or detailed explications in Husserl’s texts.MULTIPLICITY. Philosophie der Arithmetik (1890–1901). the unity of the thing is only meant. collection. in other more technical contexts. the structure of the “Einheit einer Mannigfaltigkeit. Sammlung. if the thing itself is given (Gegeben) only insofar as it is presented (Dargestellt) through a multiplicity of appearances related in a nexus of reference (Hinweiszusammenhang).” Now. as a phenomenon having an “EM-structure.or the Soseinsinn of the thing. Eley (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. However. L. so as to refer to several (“many”) items of sorts simply put together. . the best account of which can be found in 9. then the thing is given precisely insofar as it is intentionally constituted as the intended unity of a multiplicity of adumbrations. Husserliana XII. Inbegriﬀ. to put it more handily. to begin with. the emergence of such a twofold meaning has to be traced back to some other source. 14. Husserl argues that because the open-ended series of appearances synthesized in the chain of adumbrations is not suﬃcient to bestow either the Sein.” that is.9 In fact. he mentions “plurality. Husserl uses the term in a more precise sense. And. from this descriptive premise Husserl ends up drawing the conclusion that the internal discrepancy unity/multiplicity proper to the EM-structure is responsible both for the non-adequate and non-apodictic mode of appearing of perceptual “things” and for their non-absolute and therefore relative mode of being. 7. Aggregat. The perceptual thing is therefore constituted as the unity of a multiplicity or. 1970). In fact. The argument is clearly unsound. Menge usw. While the multiplicity of appearances is actually presented. group. the discovery itself. MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 163 adumbrations and the unity of what is only adumbrated through diﬀerences or— more precisely—between the multiplicity of presentations (Darstellungen) and the unity of the thing meant (Meinen). and if the unity of these appearances is only intended (Gemeinte).
e. which I call the improper inﬁnite) as well as to the peras. a manifold (Mannigfaltigkeit): is a multiplicity (Viele) which can be thought of as one (welches sich als Einen denken läßt). Ein mathematisch-philosophischer Versuch in der Lehre der Unendlichen (Leipzig: Teubner. the boundary. This is clearly not the mature deﬁnition of a Cantorian set that can be found in the Beiträge (1895). since what “brings together” or “uniﬁes” a multiplicity of. But more about this later. Erster Teil: Untersuchungen zur Phänomenologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis. for the simple idea of a somewhat uniﬁed multiplicity is clearly not enough to explain what a manifold is.e. Texte aus dem Nachlaß (1886–1901). say. welcher durch ein Gesetz zu einem Ganzen verbunden warden kann. Cantor. i. I. d. 121. 1983). i. undetermined.e. a group of determined elements that can be united into a whole by some law (Inbegriﬀ bestimmter Elemente. the one explicitly taken into account by Husserl—and that is what matters here. similarly red items is not a law. He contrasts this to the apeiron (i.” By contrast. nevertheless. Panzer (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. Strohmeyer (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. and he explains it as an ordered “mixture” of both. when Husserl quotes this passage from Cantor’s Grundlagen. den ich bisher nur in der speziellen Gestaltung einer arithmetischen oder geometrischen Mengenlehre auszubilden versucht habe. not even the unity of the species. Studien zur Arithetik und Geometrie.12 Maybe a few years later.h. Zweiter Band. Logische Untersuchungen. U. let us simply stress that the interesting suggestion made 10.10 According to this second sense. jeden Inbegriﬀ bestimmter Elemente. Quoted by Husserl in Huaserliana XXI. to the notion of a manifold belongs not only the idea of a multiplicity. welcher durch ein Gesetzt zu einen Ganzen verbunden werden kann). ed. Interestingly enough. 12.164 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO a deﬁnition provided by Cantor and quoted by Husserl himself in one of his early manuscripts. not materially (be it factually or essentially). but the constant presence of the same ideal-speciﬁc “redness. Unter einer ‘Mannigfaltigkeit’ oder ‘Menge’ verstehe ich nämlich allgemein jedes Viele. 95. Mit diesem Worte bezeichne ich einen sehr viel umfassended Lehrebgriﬀ. 1883). 43: “Mannigfaltigkeitslehre. und ich glaube hiermit etwas zu deﬁnieren. was verwandt ist mit dem platonischen eidos oder idea. 11.” And the fact that the unity is provided “by a law” and not otherwise should not be underestimated.11 is in this sense the unity of a manifold. According to Cantor. For the passage continues as follows: I believe [Cantor writes] that I am deﬁning something akin to the Platonic eidos or idea as well as to that which Plato calls mikton in his dialogue Philebus or the Supreme Good. he omits to mention its fascinating coda. welches sich als Einen denken läßt. Husserl could have found this remark more appealing. Grundlagen einer Allgemeinen Mannigfaltigkeitslehre. the unbounded. ed. more sensitive to the Platonic call of the rizomata pantos. which according to the Second Logical Investigation is that of “the one in the many” (Eine im Mannigfaltigen). G. in Husserliana XIX/1. but only an early one. It is. wie auch dem. a “law” uniﬁes a multiplicity structurally. was Platon in seinem Dialogue ‘Philebos oder das höchste Gut’ mikton nennt. See §5 of the Second Logical Investigation.” . For the moment. In this sense. 1984). but also that of a “unity according to a law.
sondern auch irgend geordneter Elemente ist. But if we take into account the idea that order and continuous connection could also be considered as structural features of a manifold. In more Platonic terms. even in a modiﬁed sense. but also ordered elements. … However. but continuously connected elements.” It is clear. it would not make any sense to aﬃrm.” For the same reason.13 What Husserl retains from Riemann is that a manifold is not only a set of many “elements. Husserliana XXI. And this introduces a third sense: By manifold. the “thing” is constituted. MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 165 here is that a “manifold” is. if a “manifold” is not a simple “unity of a multiplicity. that within the non-ontological context of the constitution of the Sein. and on the other hand not merely united.” it is not a sheer “multiplicity” either (what Cantor calls the “improper inﬁnite”)—or at least not insofar as its elements are structurally united according to a law. Aber dieser Begriﬀ stimmt nicht mit dem von Riemann und sonst der Theorie der Geometrie verrwandten <überein>. precisely. as we have already pointed out in our survey of Husserl’s idealistic argument. but parts of the whole of a lived experience). wonach eine Mannigfaltigkeit ein Inbegriﬀ nicht bloß geeinigter. or as a whole whose parts are adumbrations (for adumbrations are not parts of the perceptually appearing thing.” “limit” and “unlimited.and Sosein-sinn of a perceptual thing.MULTIPLICITY.” gathered together and “thought as one by a law. The EM-structure implicated in the constitution of the perceptual thing is. as the intentional unity of a “multiple system of continuous multiplicities of appearances and adumbrations” (vielfaltiges System von kontinuierlichen Erscheinungs. that the thing is constituted as a simple multiplicity of adumbrations (for adumbrations are not simply put together). und andererseits nicht bloß geeinigter sondern kontinuerlich zusammenhängender Elemente. in fact.und Abschattungsmannigfaltigkeiten) (see above §6). according to which a manifold is a collection not of merely united. “the unity of a multiplicity. neither that of a simple multitude (Vielheit). a manifold should rather be compared with what the Philebus calls the “mixture” of “bounded” and “boundary. since. Cantor means a simple collection of elements that are in some way united. therefore.” . But this is not the end of the story. For in the same manuscripts Husserl ends up explicitly praising on more than one occasion Riemann’s theory of manifolds over Cantor’s. Husserl’s claims that a perceptual thing is “fully constituted as a manifold 13. nor that of a set (Inbegriﬀ. precisely.” but not in the sense of the commonality of the same property or ideal species that is somewhat equally present in a multiplicity of similar particular cases. this conception does not coincide with that of Riemann and as used elsewhere in the theory of geometry. as “unities of multiplicities. a multiplicity of ordered and continuously connected elements. according to the third sense isolated above. Menge) or of a mereological whole (Ganze)—although these could all be considered. This later indication is crucial. or as a set of adumbrations (for adumbrations are not discrete and randomly ordered elements of a set). and more importantly.” but also. 96–7: “Cantor versteht unter Mannigfaltigkeit schelchthin einen Inbegriﬀ irgend geeinigter Elemente …. from diﬀerent points of view.
It modiﬁes itself. I will not expand for the moment on this crucial idea of “continuous connection.” “relation. once it factually meets the idea of constitution—a forbidden encounter. intervening when the talk of Mannigfaltigkeit steps over the boundaries of logic and formal ontology and intervenes in transcendental contexts as related with that of Konstitution. the notion of Mannigfaltigkeit lives most of its own philosophical life. The short description of the three senses of Mannigfaltigkeit indicated above is clearly not enough to do full justice to Husserl’s rather complex appropriation of the mathematical notion of manifold. And here is the ﬁrst novelty. therefore. And it is precisely this twofold modiﬁcation.” and so on. so to speak. 2) makes perfect sense again. For it simply conﬁrms that in Husserl’s explicit account. independently from that of constitution. viewed more closely. D 13I .” One could. It is also accurate to maintain that it mostly appears within the boundaries of ontology. while modifying in turn the idea of constitution. since it should not have passed the ﬁlter of the reduction—the idea of manifold turns into something diﬀerent. In order to make our account more encompassing.” “state of aﬀairs. as the (intended) unity of a multiplicity (of adumbrations). The premise of the objection has to be granted. But considered operatively. Thus considered thematically. we should have talked of Husserl’s general appreciation of Riemann’s n-dimensional manifolds in geometrical contexts.” whose relevance should be apparent later. manifold is simply a formal ontological notion in Husserl’s work. “Manifold” is in fact indicated by Husserl as a formal ontological category. that we should try to identify—with the help of the aforementioned equivocal distinction between Mannigfaltigkeit as sheer multiplicity and Mannigfaltigkeit as manifold. theory of science and formal logic. along with “object. Before we move forward I would simply recall one last point. a more general pattern comes to the fore. as it were. For it is true that Husserl’s explicit use of the notion of manifold belongs to the technical context of his formal ontological researches. and that the basic concepts of these disciplines have to be suspended by the reduction as soon as the constitutive analysis replaces the naive attitude. spreading itself in each and every constitutive analysis: a general principle according to which what is constituted as such is constituted as a manifold—not only . But this fact still does not prove that we are on the wrong track. if within the idealistic argument sketched in Ideas I (which partially develops certain indications already present in Thing and Space) only the perceptive thing is said to be constituted as a manifold—that is. Now. We should also have mentioned Husserl’s account of the Mannigfaltigkeitslehre within his project of pure logic as a “theory of the forms of theory. object that what is missing in this sketchy report is the “formal ontological” framework within which Husserl’s notion of manifold is mostly and explicitly conjured. As soon as we have learned to identify the connection between Konstitution and Mannigfaltigkeit. the presence of a EM-structure can also be found in the constitution of objects belonging to other eidetic regions. 8.166 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO of adumbrations” (völlig konstituiert als einer Mannigfaltigkeit von Abschattungen) (Ms.
es ist nur einmal. 39. Husserl. as already noticed. Husserliana XIX/1. ed. the relation of instantiation/exempliﬁcation is speciﬁc to idealities. 1975). Let us recall. Boehm (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. 17. E. E. Logische Untersuchungen. although many things have changed in the meantime.16 All these examples can be understood as belonging to a more ontological context. in the Seefeld Manuscripts. Holenstein (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. 1984). However. 16. Husserliana XVIII. U. each species (Spezies)—and at the time Husserl considered the ideality of meaning simply as a particular case of the ideality of species in general—is characterized again as a Einheit der Mannigfaltigkeit. for instance. while the relation of adumbration/ presentation is speciﬁc to things. but is also stated explicitly. L. 392: “Die Eine wiederholt sich also nicht im Gleichen. 1966). an EM-structure can also be found on the founded level of the constitution of general and higher order objects. ed. concepts. an object of a new kind.” as it is clearly shown. varieties of EM-structure can be found not only on the level of the constitution of concrete perceptual individuals (like “things”) but also. although sharply contrasted with the “reality of the individual. but is given only once in many. meanings.17 14. §§29. The same holds in §§29 and 39 of the Prolegomena. R. how in §32 of the First Logical Investigation the ideality of meanings. There cannot be a thing given without adumbration just as there cannot be a species given without instances. on the level of abstract perceptual individuals like “this shade of red.” From now on.MULTIPLICITY. red as such appears in each instance (although always diﬀerently exempliﬁed).15 in §19 of the Second Logical Investigation. Erster Band: Prolegomena zur reinen Logik. aber im Vielen gegeben. the idea of deﬁning the constitution of idealities and general objects as such in terms of EM-structures not only remains unchanged. 102. Logische Untersuchungen. 15. MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 167 what is constituted as a “thing. See the Seefelder Manuskripte über Individuation (1907). like meanings and essences (be it pure or impure). Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewußtseins (1893–1917). a one that does not repeat itself in the like. where colors in general. 237–65. Landgrebe (Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag. But as soon as we turn away from the early Logical Investigations and move to the mature Experience and Judgment. ed. in Husserliana X. While the whole thing appears in each adumbration (although always from a diﬀerent angle). and even truth itself are described as ideal identities (ein ideal Identisches ist gegenüber der Mannigfaltigkeit möglicher Einzelfälle) that can be intuited over against a dispersed multitude of concrete individual cases (ihrer identischen Einheit gegenüber einer verstreuten Mannigfaltigkeit von konkreten Einzelfällen). for instance.14 But more important. Erster Teil: Untersuchungen zur Phänomenologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis. Erfahrung und Urteil.” . Panzer (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. Zweiter Band. mutatis mutandis. 1999).” is deﬁned again as Einheit in der Mannigfaltigkeit. And it is precisely in §81b of Experience and Judgment that Husserl openly relates the constitution of generalities to the structure of what he now calls—referring to the Aristotelian formula used to summarize the status of the Platonic ideas—hen epi pollon: the unity of an a priori generality. ed.
and general objects. idealities.” 20. Another variety of EM-structure appears in the realm of the so-called immanent objects as well. And even the relationship between unity and multiplicity takes diﬀerent forms. immanent “objects” belonging to the inner ﬂow of time are in fact described precisely as “unities of an absolute and not grasped multiplicity. 284: “Einheiten einer absoluten nicht erfaßten Mannigfaltigkeit.”22 18. Erinnerung. again. D. 291: “Bewußtsein ist immer Zusammenhang und notwendig Zusammenhang. 9. den des ursprünglichen Zeitbewußtseins. Texte aus dem Nachlass (1898–1925). Husserliana XXXIII. Phäntasie. 12 (1910). In his lectures on time consciousness. for “it belongs to the essence of this unity as a temporal unity to be ‘constituted’ in the absolute consciousness. since we are now dealing with diﬀerent kinds of objects. d. Bernet. the one is rather exempliﬁed (exempliﬁziert) in the many and the many instantiate (instanziert) the one.” . In the case of the EM-structure proper to the givenness of the thing the one is presented (dargestellt) in the many and the many adumbrate (abschatten) the one. Husserliana XXIII. Hua X. Hua X. the connection between constitution and manifold ultimately appears to be at work also in the constitution of abstract individuals. text no. ed. 1980). That will bring Husserl.’” 22.18 However. und in diesem haben wir die Mannigfaltigkeit der impressionalen Inhalte. 284: “Zum Wesen dieser Einheit als zeitlicher Einheit gehört es. in that of general objects.”19 And Husserl. daß sie sich im absoluten Bewußtsein ‘konstituiert. 284-5: “Die wesentliche Beziehung des immanenten Objekts auf ein gebendes Bewußtsein fordert hier die Lösung des Problems dieser Gegebenheit. 2001). especially in the Bernauer materials. Bildbewusstsein. 19. “we have to study thoroughly the multiplicities of consciousness and their unity in which the object is ‘constituted. Wir haben den originären Zusammenhang. Zur Phänomenologie der anschaulichen Vergegenwartigungen.’”21 Consciousness is in fact always and necessarily a nexus: “We have the original nexus of the primal consciousness of time. ed. in both cases.’” 21. Hua X. While initially discovered during the analysis of the constitution of perceptual things. es müssen genau die Bewußtseinsmannigfaltigkeiten und ihre Einheiten studiert warden in denen sich die Objekt ‘konstituiert. in order to understand properly the problems related to the relationship between immanent objects and giving consciousness. Die Bernauer Manuskripte über das Zeitbewußtsein (1917–18). the formal pattern followed by Husserl in describing their constitution remains the same.h. and within the latter we have the multiplicity of impressional contents. R. relates this new variety of EM-structure to a speciﬁc form of constitution. Husserl adds. And the list is far from being exhaustive.168 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO Of course the variety of constituted manifolds and the manners in which the multiplicities are uniﬁed by the structural laws of the passive and active synthesis are diﬀerent for ideal generalities and perceptive individuals. Marbach (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. to the distinction between the temporal constitution (Zeitlich) of individual things and the omnitemporal (Allzeitlich) constitution of idealities.”20 Moreover. 91. cf. E. Lohmar (Dordrecht: Kluwer.
i. we discover Husserl progressing in the following way: 1.e.4 Ideal general objects. 20 (1921–4).23 The same holds for the constitutive features of the experience of the other. in the narrower sense of continuous connection of a multiplicity of ordered elements. he ﬁnally relates the uncovered varieties of EM-structures with the requirement of what we may call—according to the terminological stipulation 2.. before we move forward. for the moment. He begins with diﬀerent appearing objects. ﬁctions. Hua I. i.e.e. in fact. And this time we certainly will not be surprised to ﬁnd Husserl making clear that in the speciﬁc case of the constitution of quasi-things “the manifold is diﬀerent from what it is in the case of the thing pure as simple” (die Mannigfaltigkeit ist eine andere als für das Ding schlechthin). 182. 1. 23. 1. in the case of immanent objects.. species.. essences. 1. very diﬀerent indeed. the relevant variety of EM-structure at work should be neither understood in terms of adumbration/presentation (as for the constitution of the thing) nor in terms of exempliﬁcation/instantiation (as for the constitution of general objects)..24 In sum. other persons. meanings. but also that of lived experiences and immanent objects is over and over again described by Husserl as constituted as a manifold—where manifold has to be taken at least in the general sense of multiplicity given as one according to a law. MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 169 Of course. belonging to diﬀerent intentional experiences.6 etc. is at pains in the attempt to discover the constitutive speciﬁcity of this new manifold. text no. categories. if not. 1. So let us simply stress. intuited in image consciousness or pure fantasy. in all these cases. . i. ﬁctional quasi-individual objects.. And.2 Perceptual immanent individuals. that not only the appearance of concrete and abstract individuals given in sense perception or general objects given in ideation. we should also add to the list that—again. constituted according to various EM-structures. i.MULTIPLICITY. Hua XXIII.e. i. as through a prism (the reduction). mutatis mutandis.” so to speak. 24. The “appresentatitional” structure of such experience is described by Husserl in the Cartesian Meditations as the analogical transfer of unity and multiplicity (überschobene Einheit und Mannigfaltigkeit) from the living body of the ego to that of alter.e. more particularly. the Fremderfahrung. things (Dinge). 3. naively grasped in intentio recta: 1. he diﬀracts their “naive being.3 Imaginary quasi-individuals. 1.5 Perceptual transcendent individuals provided of lived experiences. and discovers as many diﬀerent multiplicities. And Husserl.1 Perceptual transcendent individuals. lived experiences (Erlebnisse). 587. appear as constituted according to another variety of EM-structure.
” For the notion of constitution is manifestly broader than that of transcendental subjectivity. 1973). M. if the above is true. Of course recognizing that transcendental subjectivity is itself constituted is not suﬃcient enough of an argument to conclude that constitution—in the sense of constitution of manifolds—is not constituted by a transcendental subject. Not only in the “internal time-consciousness” by the living present. the living body as well turns out to be constituted by a multiplicity. by a multiplicity of kinesthesis. In fact. if—in a sense—one can safely claim that for Husserl “to be” means “to be constituted. See Hua XXI. but also—as I failed to mention earlier—in what we may call the “internal space-consciousness”: the living body.” this fact does not entail that “to be constituted” should be equated. U. Husserliana IV. that is. 1952). Now. Ding und Raum. To begin with.25 Transcendental subjectivity is in fact constituted as well. 29. and non-reduced view has always called “ontology.29 25. for on this occasion Husserl explicitly describes the two levels of the constitution of the spatial thing precisely as “the linear manifold of approaching and receding” and “the two-fold cyclic manifold of turning” (Die lineare Annäherungs. ed.170 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO suggested above—a diﬀerentiated constitutive phenomenology of manifolds whose ambition is to replace what the naive. 26. It has to be stressed that although Husserl is certainly aware of the diﬀerence between the non-technical meaning of Mannigfaltigkeit as “multitude of …” and the technical meaning of “manifold. Ideen zur einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie.” 10. For according to Ideas II. as Husserl states in §73 of Thing and Space27—but that is an old idea. Husserliana XVI. ﬁrst discussed in a manuscript of 189228—are Mannigfaltigkeiten. both in the nontechnical sense of multiplicities of sensory impressions. in order to be questioned in its meaning (Sinn). with “to be constituted by a transcendental subjectivity” or “to be in front of a subject. traditional.” and “to be an object” means “to be constituted by a transcendental subjectivity” appears to be not only misleading. 255. and in many ways. This dual fact brings to a series of problems that I will not be able to address here. “being” has to be diﬀracted into a multiplicity and constituted as a manifold. 27. as the standard view suggests.und Entfernungsmannigfaltigkeit. Heidegger’s notorious claim that in Husserl’s phenomenology “to be” means “to be an object. die zwiefach zyklische Wendungs-mannigfaltigkeit). 237. Zweites Buch: Phänomenologische Untersuchungen zur Konstitution. That suggests two additional remarks. It conceals the fact that. Biemel (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. ed. and in the technical mathematical sense of topological n-dimensional spaces. Claesges (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoﬀ. but also—to use a term some Heidegger’s scholars are particularly fond of—concealing. §10.” he often takes advantage of the equivocity of the term to bridge the technical and . 28.26 And the kinesthesis. Vorlesungen 1907. transcendental subjectivity is for Husserl both itself constituted and itself constituting. from a phenomenological perspective.
is that Heidegger seems to understand the “Beisammen” in terms of predication and. On the contrary. as a result. I will come back to the correlation between the technical and the non-technical sense later.31 The point is not that phenomena exist. ﬁctions. Heidegger. GA 2 (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer. in fact. personal egos (mine and that of other persons). To some extent.means. Heidegger was right: constitution is the core concept of the phenomenological project. abstract particulars. 11. M. Fink. The second remark is related to Heidegger’s famous understanding of constitution. in turn. give rise to the problem of their constitution. MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 171 To put it diﬀerently.” and that it is precisely to that extent that things. But Fink mistakenly understands Zusammenstellung more as a “construction” or even as a “creation” than as a “nexus” or as a “many-as-one” (see above §4). quasi-individual ﬁctions. This happens especially in Thing and Space. was not far from the mark—or at least closer to the mark than Heidegger—when he characterizes constitution in terms of Zusammenstellung.” The problem. lived experiences. qualities and aspects of entities. but in the possibility that a consciousness might ﬁnd them meaningful only if it could be able to provide certain synthesis and make a manifold emerge from a multiplicity (namely. we should say that the task of phenomenology is to bring to language the togetherness that “lets what shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it is meaningful. and so on.” ﬁnally turns the phenomenon into an object. constitution is at the heart of phenomenology because—according to Heidegger himself—logos within the word phenomeno-logy has to be understood as synthesis. which is precisely the the non-technical meaning. their “meaning” (Sinn) is not much in the fact that they are what they are insofar as they are in front of a subject. 30. Sein und Zeit.” in phenomenology. is so crucial for phenomenology as such. and that is the unity of the thing as contrasted to the multiplicity of its properties. So if we were to rewrite the famous passage of Being and Time. however. the only multiplicity he can deal with is that of the multiple properties.”30 So phenomenology brings to language the togetherness that makes phenomena meaningful. according to Being and Time §7b. Accordingly. where syn. 33. but that they hold together. are all constituted—but qua manifolds and not qua objects-in-front-of-a-subject: constituted as Einheiten von Mannigfaltigkeiten.MULTIPLICITY. 31. But he was right for the wrong reason: constitution is not the core concept of phenomenology because phenomenology. lived experiences and living bodies. Fink was probably too fascinated by the possibility of equating being with being-given and therefore accomplishing phenomenology’s idealism to insist on the fact that “to be. means “to be a variety of many-as-one. constituted in a certain way). species and genera. . 2001). “letting something be seen in its togetherness (Beisammen). only if such consciousness is. there is one thing that Husserl never deﬁnes in terms of EM. things. in trying to “let what shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself. Again. It is precisely for that reason that eidetic variation. as well as cultural and ideal higher-order objects. in undoing such “togetherness” while revealing the meaningfulness of a concept.
34 III 12. Such a shift is related to the abandonment of the so-called “problem of being” for an investigation focused on the emergence of manifolds out of multiplicities and the possible points of reference for meaningful experiences. it is not diﬃcult to imagine the political and cultural implications of the shift from being to manifold. since the expansion of constitution via the thread of multiplicity is not antithetical to the thought that constitution is constitution by a transcendental (inter)subjectivity. we get at the veritable sense in which transcendental subjectivity is both itself constituted and itself constituting. The ﬁrst is related to the idealist argument of Ideas I from which we have started. Not only is the scope of constitution broader than that of transcendental subjectivity. and from each manifold to its own diﬀerent variety of constitution.32 but we now have to add that. 17–54. Concepts that. strange entities with an odd ontological status. The outcome of these remarks so far is the following. in metaphysics (the manifold meanings of being) and epistemology (the many properties of an entity).172 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO most traditional way to deal with multiplicities.” New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy VIII (2008). On the other hand. . from Plato to Kant.’” Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 49/1 (2006).33 In fact. correlatively. 33.” as it were. as soon as we understand that “being” is the name that the ontological tradition has given to a certain constituted multiplicity. At this point. put diﬀerently and in more general terms (also independently from Husserl’s idealistic conclusion about the putative absolute being 32. not as diﬀerent from any other. and couples can no longer be considered as collections or assemblies of beings. often “asepticized. 34. But two questions still remain unanswered: both concerning not the connection between constitution and meaningfulness. we could even say that transcendental inter-subjectivity is as broad as constitution. but that between constitution and the theme of the rizomata panton. Of course. within the restricted framework of logic and ontology. but as beings in a relevant sense—constituted multiplicities. crystallized and turned into a paradigm. 89–112 and “Husserl and the Vicissitudes of the Improper. More details on this topic can be found in “Les essences des ‘Recherches Logiques. groups. and runs as follows: granted that the perceptual thing (and correlatively the real world) has a relative being because it appears as the unity-of-a-multiplicity. irreducible and yet related with others forms of togetherness. not only physical objects or persons but also nations. should we not draw from that premise the conclusion that according to Husserl consciousness has an absolute being precisely because it does not appear in that way? Or. the idea of manifold should be considered as phenomenologically prior to that of being. what is phenomenologically relevant in transcendental inter-subjectivity is precisely the fact that we are dealing with a new form of togetherness. have always been of paramount importance at the periphery of the empire: in philosophy of mathematics and in political philosophy. Moreover. and since with the inter-subjective dimension. the history of philosophy is replete with embarrassing philosophical statements to stigmatize the vast family of concepts related to the idea of multiplicity. cities.
as “bringing the constitution of manifolds to language and therefore making sense of beings” would be severely compromised. If being is individual being. precisely because its mode of appearing is not that of a Einheit einer Mannigfaltigkeit. the possibility of characterizing phenomenology as a whole. As for the ﬁrst question. it is true that in many texts Husserl seem to claim that the ﬂow of consciousness is at the same time constitutive of objectivities—be it transcendent or immanent—and devoid of any EM-structure. MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 173 of consciousness): is it possible for something to appear not as a manifold? Is a fundamentally unconstituted phenomenon. It is the root: it bears every other individual being. and so on: oppositions belonging to the innermost core of the infamous western metaphysics of presence. The second question is related to the purported novelty of such an attempt to take the EM-structure as a guiding thread to understand constitution. If this happens to be the case. devoid of any variety of EM-structure whatsoever. be it immanent or transcendent. truly unzeitgemäß—or simply altmodish? 13.” praising the virtues of the One as the Idea of Good? In sum. is the idea of phenomenology we are up to.MULTIPLICITY. such as the one and the many. . being in radical sense. and not only in some passages of Ideas I. So would it not be the case that our allegedly new Husserl might look like a quite old Neoplatonist. taken from a 1908 manuscript: Consciousness. One may therefore suspect that absolute consciousness. In fact. And it important to recall that it is precisely within the idealistic argument supposed to justify the distinction between relative being of the real world and absolute being of consciousness that we have learned of the intimate connection between constitution and manifold. there is nothing more traditional than the Platonic dialectical opposition between the one and the many. At the end of the day. in a rather unusual way. only relative being is constituted. identity and diﬀerence. whose mode of appearing has no EM-structure. It is the root and—according to another image—the source of everything else that otherwise is called or can be called “being”. lasting. while absolute being is not. phenomenologically conceivable? There is no point denying that such a possibility has been explored by Husserl himself. This idea is clearly formulated in the following text. modifying and not-modifying itself while it lasts. is ultimately unconstituted. texts where it is openly stated that absolute consciousness is precisely the only unconstituted being and therefore the—transcendental—root (rizoma) of any further being. someone (say. as already mentioned. a follower of Derrida) may suggest that our supposedly unconventional Husserl is simply playing with quite traditional conceptual oppositions. Accordingly. and that his transcendental-constitutive “beyond being” narrative may end up being nothing but a renewed version of the famous platonic “epekeina tês ousias. but also in a number of texts now published in Husserliana XXXVI (Transzendentaler Idealismus). or the mantic obsession for roots and beginnings of all sorts. is radical in the proper sense of the word.
ed. temporal object. ist im radikalen. 2003). swinging from one solution to the other. Sowa (Dordrecht: Kluwer. so ist Bewusstsein kein Sein.” . in itself. Transzendentaler Idealismus. be it the one-through-many-adumbrations (proper to the appearance of a thing). but it is not itself and in itself a temporal being—yet this does not prevent it from receiving through “subjectiﬁcation” (a speciﬁc form of objectiﬁcation) a position within time and therefore being “shaped” as a lasting. in that case. to the absolute ﬂow of consciousness. it is not a unity of a multiplicity.” consciousness is not being. it is worth noticing that a third possibility is left open. Ist Sein individuelles Sein. absolute consciousness has no EM-structure. Rollinger. no doubt. dauernd und in seiner Dauer sich verändernd und nicht verändernd. if this is also the dilemma that Husserl will face all through his life. zeitliches Sein. In sich selbst ist es aber unzeitlich. sei es immanente. Es ist die Wurzel: Es trägt jedes andere. aber nicht selbst und in sich selbst zeitlich seiend. namely the Einheit einer Mannigfaltigkeit proper to the Absolute Bewußtsein. zum Zeitobjekt „gestaltet“ wird. R. that is. was nicht hindert. but in that case “being” cannot be equated with “being constituted” since constitution turns out to characterize only the derivative sense of being.174 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO temporal being. was sonst noch „Sein“ heißt und heißen kann. Texte aus dem Nachlass (1908–1921). It is the bearer of time. it does not refer back to anything else from which it could or should be obtained as a unity. that relative being harboring an EM-structure. sei es transzendente individuelle Sein. it is not temporal. Es ist Träger der Zeit. then consciousness is not being. But every other being is precisely unitary and refers back. Whether Husserl explicitly takes this third way is matter of dispute. If the secret model of the EM-structure is that of the transcendent perceptual individual. if “being” means “being constituted. es weist auf nichts weiter zurück. im echten Sinn des Wortes. leghetai pollakhos— and absolute consciousness is being (and even being in the most original and primitive sense). R. the “thing” (where the multiplicity is made of adumbrations and the unity is that of an intention) then. However. or “being” is equivocal—that is. Alles andere Sein aber ist eben einheitliches und weist mittelbar oder unmittelbar auf den absoluten Bewusstseinsﬂuss zurück. However. Husserliana XXXVI. ist es keine Einheit der Mannigfaltigkeit. immediately or mediately. How is that possible? The outcome is suggested in this very same passage. since it has no EM-structure.35 In this extraordinary passage Husserl faces a dilemma. But since we have learned how not to conﬂate the formal structure of the oneas-many (proper to every appearance) with the material structure of any of its varieties. Es ist die Wurzel und – in einem anderen Bild – die Quelle alles dessen. dass es durch „Subjektivierung“ (eine bestimmte Sorte von Objektivierung) Einordnung in die Zeit erhält und dann zum Dauernden. Either “being” is univocal and. that is. the one-being-instantiated-over-against-many-individual-cases 35. das Sein im radikalen Sinn. the one-lasting-through-many-temporal-phases (proper to the appearance of a lived experience). and discover its own peculiar EM-structure.” provided that we succeed in undergoing the so called absolute being of consciousness to the prism of the reduction. But the fact remains that a phenomenological way out exists: “being” can be univocal and can be safely equated with “be constituted. 70: “Das Bewusstsein. aus dem es als Einheit entnommen werden könnte und müsste.
peculiar and irreducible EM-structure. as already happened when we shifted from the constitution of the thing to the constitution of the living experience: “the opposition between unity and multiplicity receives a new sense. Such a conﬂation is quite certainly due to the hegemonic role played by what we may call the “Kantian” model of constitution. MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 175 (proper to the appearance of ideal objects). responsible for the non-objective appearing of consciousness. which as such would be something that subjectivity cannot make sense of (the Diﬀerence. the Other. the Primordial Ooze.” . 14. Nothing appears otherwise as a manifold. As Husserl says in another text of 1907. it is easy to avoid such an error. And this will happen. in the Bernau materials. for instance. The answer to the ﬁrst question is therefore negative: in phenomenology nothing is unconstituted. 271: “der Gegensatz von Einheit und Mannigfaltigkeit einen neuen Sinn bekommt. EM-structure speciﬁc to ideal objects founded on individuals. Hua X. At this point someone might become increasingly worried and ask: if in phenomenology nothing is unconstituted. 36. As a consequence the “real transcendent” is nothing but the “unconstituted. However this does not necessarily mean that absolute consciousness has no EM-structure at all.MULTIPLICITY.”36 It is only after having developed a more ﬁne-grained conception of inner timeconsciousness—which he did not fully have in his possession in 1907–8—that Husserl will be able to grasp such “neuen Sinn” in which absolute consciousness can be deﬁned by its own unique form of unity in multiplicity. etc.). der uns auf eine tiefer liegende Schicht von konstituierenden Bewußtseinsvorkommnissen zurückführen wird. not even the so-called absolute consciousness.” the passively received. that one might be tempted to jump to the conclusion that “Bewußtsein ist kein Sein” and therefore not constituted. it is only if we consider “Sein als individueller Sein” (where multiplicities are adumbrations of a thing or phases of a lived experience) and take the EM-structure of individuality as a standard. In other words. and it certainly does not take the form of the hen epi pollon. the Meaningless. re-tensions and pro-tensions. but rather that it has its own. these questions probably rest on a misunderstanding that tends to conﬂate the phenomenological question of the unconstituted with the issue of the absolutely transcendent (the Outside. what about the irreducible fact of the World? What about the irreducible fact of the Other (with a rigorously capital ‘O’)? But in my view. according to which the a priori forms of sensibility (space and time) and intellect (categories) act upon a multitude of raw materials and bring it to the phenomenal unity of an object. the Transcendence.). whatever its Sein or Sosein-sinn might be. etc. text no. the World. that will guide us back to a deeper layer of constitutive conscious events. But absolute consciousness has neither the EM-structure of an individual nor that of a quasi-individual. which is nothing but the structure of the ﬂowing living present: one present “constituted” by the intensive multiplicity of impressions. what is required here is the readjustment of our understanding of the relationship between one and many. 39.
” not “absolutely transcendent. nothing. marking its ﬁnitude even before the meaningful experience of objects. for instance. even if it has obviously nothing to do with the absolutely transcendent. not even the absolute consciousness can be described as “simple for it cannot be more than one.” Accordingly. a putative “unconstituted” would be something “appearing as structurally simple.” something closer to the Aristotelian aploun (Met. one can refer to the multiplicities constituting a manifold as relatively unconstituted. with the absolute being). having hastily identiﬁed the EM-structure with the phenomenal structure of the transcendent thing and generalized the mode of constitution “content/form of apprehension” to individuality as such. giving credit to the idea of the unconstituted (identiﬁed. while the non-phenomenological search for the unconstituted is identical with the search of the absolutely transcendent (and non-subjective).” as it were. 15. this is clearly not the path followed by Husserl. the phenomenological unconstituted is rather something whose appearing is supposedly devoid of any EM-structure.∆ 1015b 12) than to the diﬀerent forms of Transzendenz advocated by neo-Kantians and Heideggerians of all sorts. Husserl has all the means to jettison at the same time the limitation of constitution to worldly objects (=generalization of constitution: everything is constituted). within the idealistic argument.” excluding multiplicity (pleonachōs). even if we were to accept that there is nothing absolutely unconstituted. “unconstituted” means “absolutely simple. In fact. but as elements. since. something out of control limiting the subject in its factual passivity.” that is. However. . Therefore. insofar as it resists the form/content scheme. “things” appear as “unconstituted” when they take part in the constitution of essences or species as the multiple supports for the appearing of an ideal object. And within the higher-order constitution of an instantiated essence. as soon as he realizes that even absolute consciousness has its own EM-structure. Now. as well as any search for the aploun. In such cases. the lower-order constitution through adumbrations of the perceptive thing becomes irrelevant. the search for the phenomenological unconstituted would be nothing but the search of the simple¸ absolute appearing unity.176 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO something toward which subjectivity is hopelessly powerless. The unconstituted is not the absolutely not-subjective that subjectivity receives “from outside. and in that case essences and species appear as constituted by a multiplicity of similar things. transcendent perceptual individuals. “Things. to the extent that they are given not as manifolds themselves. Husserl thought that absolute consciousness. So in strictly phenomenological terms. are given as manifolds constituted by a multiplicity of adumbrations. the form/content paradigm (=proliferation of constitutions: there are many varieties of constitution). As we have seen. should be considered as appearing in a simple way. there is a legitimate way of talking of the nonconstituted in constitutive phenomenology. But if our hypothesis is correct. However. at the beginning. non-meaningful. But things can also appear as examples of general objects like essences or species. “Constituted” out of multiplicities of adumbrations. in some sense. one could say that they are relatively unconstituted.
it may be useful to add to what is mentioned in the previous section (§15) a couple of grammatical remarks. but especially Riemann—also constructed sentences where Mannigfaltigkeit occurs as a full-ﬂedged name: quite unusual sentences like “x is a Mannigfaltigkeit” or “a Mannigfaltigkteit like y. in turn. .” “There are many y. As the English word “manifold. MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 177 or more precisely. One multitude is a multitude-of. time as a two-dimensional inﬁnitely extended orthoïd (i. linear) manifold (orthöide Mannigfaltigkeit). But this is not the main point. the German term Mannigfaltigkeit is somewhat equivocal. that one should rather call it “sedimented constitution” and conﬂate it with the purported search for the absolute un-constituted as the absolutely transcendent. however. they are still constituted insofar as they appear through adumbrations. But the grammar of Mannigfaltigkeit seems also to suggest another rather interesting distinction.” but as manifolds themselves they are constituted in the ﬂow of the living present. In phenomenology. sentences having the form: “Es gibt eine Mannigfaltigkeit von …”: “There is a multitude of x. the similar instances of an essence. the error consists in the temptation to hypostasize this relative or horizontal non-constitution. and so on. but as a manifold itself it is self-constituted as impression/pro-tension/re-tension. transcendence does not know degrees—only variations. etc. in turn the living present is “unconstituted” within the manifold living experience. as dimensions of higher-order manifolds. since I do not think that a table. although their experiences are constituted as referring to diﬀerent varieties of transcendence.” We have already recalled how Husserl has explicitly stated that space is constituted as a cyclic manifold (zyklische Mannigfaltigkeit). related to the Platonic ﬂavor of the connection between constitution and manifold.) and the latter’s appearing as manifolds (the adumbrations of a thing. Adumbrations.” and so on.” the german Mannigfaltigkeit can ordinarily be employed to form sentences where it occurs as a barely nominalized adjective.37 16. In this second case. I ﬁnally might confess that I have absolutely no fascination for the phenomenology of the Absolutely Transcendent. one does not 37.). the phases of a lived experience. appear as “unconstituted” within the manifold “thing. As for the second question (see §12). as manifolds themselves. In sum. and so on. a tree. the similar instances of an essence. for it can be indiﬀerently used to talk multiplicities (the adumbrations of a thing.” “There are plenty of z.e. Such sentences imply structurally the correlation/ opposition between many and one. a distinction that could be useful to shed some light on the relations between these equivocal senses. the phases of a lived experience. Husserl—following Cantor. etc. As already mentioned.MULTIPLICITY. a movie or a biquadratic rest are less transcendent than my dog or any other denizen of the Big Outside. We have also pointed out that Husserl often oscillates between a technical and a non-technical use of term. It is such a grammatical form that accommodates the quite old philosophical debate that nourishes Platonisms of all ages where the many are thought in relation to the one.
is not the One of the Platonic or Neoplatonic epeikena tês ousias. For it leaves place to the twofold—completely diﬀerent—issue of the becoming manifold of a multiplicity and of the diﬀerent ways of becoming manifolds. retrospectively and in a diﬀerent way. In fact. As far as I can tell. but multiple manifolds. a sort of counter-history to Platonism where it would not be relevant any more to oppose 38. In that section Proclus restates what Plato had already introduced in the Philebus and Cantor will later recognize as the ancestor of his idea of Mannigfaltigkeit (see above §9): being is a uniﬁed multiplicity insofar as it is made of limit and inﬁnity. eventually equated with the idea of Good. We can now try to address the second question. so to speak. we are rather in front of the vanishing lines of manifolds/multiplicities.178 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO oppose the one and the many but a manifold to other manifolds. interconnected. I am still not sure. And since we have seen (see §15) that each manifold is only relatively unconstituted. but the way in which many-as-one appear as diﬀerentiated. I have received the interesting suggestion to consider this Husserlian account in consultation with Proclus. an EM-structure to other varieties of EM-structures. however. it allows us to rethink. It is precisely to this extent that the Platonic opposition of the one and the many. This is what I have stressed in contrasting the traditional opposition between One/Many to the twofold relation multiplicity/manifold on the one hand and manifold/other manifold on the other. especially in relation with §138 of the Elements of Theology. on the one hand. and its transcendent fascination for the One is. But as the equivocity of Husserl’s Mannigfaltigkeit points out. whether something in Proclus approximates this point. as it were. . accounting for the givenness of the one-as-many and. simple and unstructured One. this cannot be the main point.38 At best. nor be equated with any known form of “Platonism”—not if the friends of Plato remain committed to the idea of a transcendent. the double task of phenomenology becomes. once ontology is reduced and naive objects are described in their constitution. at the same time. bringing together two quite diﬀerent issues. and can be therefore variously related in their heterogeneity. The main point is rather that manifolds are constituted as diﬀerentiated the one from the other. in our jargon. phenomenologically rendered null. for the many ways in which the diﬀerent many-as-one behave. more than in presence of an ontology—or postontology—of the one above the many. to show how a multiplicity is constituted as a manifold. that to be is to be many-as-one. The task of constitution is therefore twofold: discovering and diﬀerentiating manifolds. continuously transformable or not transformable the one into another. this move cannot be traced back so easily to Plato. and. how to recognize multiplicities of manifolds. disjointed. to take advantage once again of the equivocity of the term Mannigfaltigkeit. In bridging the two meanings of Mannigfaltigkeit—the non-technical (multiplicity-of ) and the technical (manifold)—Husserl’s constitutive analysis. What lies beyond being. articulated. on the other. The main point here is not to question the way in which the many are one. drastically contaminates the traditional problem of the one-and-the-many: the issue of the togetherness proper to the appearance and that of the varieties of togetherness out of which the ﬁeld of appearance is constituted. related. The conclusion of the passage is. roughly.
we should probably recall that such a diﬀerence is not factual but of eidetic nature. it is also clear that the eidetic distinction between consciousness and worldly reality cannot be justiﬁed on the basis of the opposition between a constituted relative being and an unconstituted absolute being. if we were to capture the deep diﬀerence between the hetero-constituted and self-constituted manifolds. In fact. between something appearing as Einheit einer Mannigfaltigkeit and something appearing as Einheit ohne Mannigfaltigkeit. one can recognize the living present of inner time and the living body of inner space as peculiar forms of what we may call “manifolds of modiﬁcation. then. MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 179 the one to the many. if we had to recast the results of our previous discussion of the heterogeneous responses to variation within the present framework of a constitutive phenomenology of manifolds. to the diﬀerence between consciousness and worldly reality that Husserl was intensely searching for? If it is clear that the proliferation of the connection between constitution and manifold fosters the idea that nothing is unconstituted. quite diﬀerent from each other. however. we should draw the following conclusion. The articulation of these manifolds therefore assumes the status of the problem that is constitutive of transcendental phenomenology itself.MULTIPLICITY. Now. the ontological distinction between consciousness and world now appears as nothing but the ontologized version. the way Husserl proceeds when it comes to bringing eidetic diﬀerences to the fore. However. from a methodological viewpoint. And. one can also ask whether redeﬁning phenomenology in terms of a universal constitution/variation excludes a renewed perspective on the question. it should not be hard to see now how beyond “manifolds of adumbration” (=things). but only a Mannigfaltigkeit to another. nothing that is given is unconstituted. so to speak. of the eidetic diﬀerence between hetero-constituted manifolds (of adumbration or foundation) and self-constituted manifolds (of modiﬁcation: the living present of the pre-given time and the living body of the pre-given space). the way through variation. in a way that it is both itself constituted and constituting. §49 clearly shows. The diﬀerentiated work of variation shows that we have to distinguish between manifolds whose “Vernichtung” is imaginable—in diﬀerent ways. “manifolds of foundation” (=ideal objects). can be in principle unmade in free fantasy. a multiplicity to a manifold and a manifold to various other manifolds. according to . In fact. granted that the metaphysical and idealistic understanding of such distinction should be abandoned. concerning the issue of the unconstituted. The outcome of such an attempt. absolute consciousness is self-constituting. If we turn back to the ﬁrst question. every “one” made out of “many” according to a law. But what happens. that is. In that sense. according to the lesson of retentionality. as the analysis of the famous example of the annihilation of the world presented in Ideas I. although mutually related. Accordingly. and inner time consciousness insofar as it is given in its own way makes no exception since. is not always the same. 17.” The varieties of these EM-structures are. that is. that is. and so on. by deliberately transgressing these laws. again. every manifold. proves crucial.
Fragile manifolds have boundaries. The same holds for founded general objects like. say.” Hetero-constituted manifolds are structurally fragile: once undone they can always give rise to manifolds of another kind. The multiplicities out of which they appear as one are virtual and intensive.180 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO their diﬀerent structural EM-features—and those of which such a destruction can only be said but not imagined. “sturdy manifolds. A lived experience devoid of certain synthesis or structural characters is simply another lived experience. it is as if we were going all the way down to the roots of that meaningfulness from which we have started (see §4). pro-tensions and re-tensions? While we can make sense of an ego whose life is not temporal (gods. By contrast.” multiplicity of views uniﬁed in a rather diﬀerent way). we would probably be wrong—but not entirely. once submitted to free variation. and quality. though variation. not open to any further proﬁles and yet intuitively given. our initial example of perceptive object has changed into an example of a purely imaginative object: it has disappeared as an object of perception (manifold of adumbrations) and become an object of pure fantasy (manifold of discrete “shots. This is precisely the case of inner-time (pretension/re-tension/primal impression as constituting the living ﬂow) and innerspace (the kinesthesis as constituting the living body). boundaries that can be crossed by continuous variations. A re-tension without primal impression would not appear as another kind of manifold. nothing could make sense of a retention stripped away from its chain of modiﬁcations.” once unmade. it would simply be inconceivable and unimaginable at all: nothing that could possibly appear or be meaningful. We may call the former “fragile manifolds” and the latter “sturdy manifolds. as free fantasy transfers us from one manifold to . so intertwined that they cannot even be imaginatively conceived the one without the other. meanings. if we wanted to say that with the “sturdy manifolds” we have reached something like the rizomata pantos of which Husserl was so fond. Let us take the example of a perceived object. closed. that is. An uttered linguistic expression whose meaning. loudness. Can one make sense of the experience of a living body that is not constituted by its own kinesthesis as another variety of manifold? Or imagine a living present not constituted by impressions. and let us break the rules of its EM-structure: imagine it now devoid of any external horizon. Sturdy manifolds are radical only in a very precise sense: understanding their self-constitution. The Sinn that the concept of constitution was meant to account for. examples of fragile manifolds. disappear: they are unimaginable otherwise as self-constituted. mythical creatures or ﬁctional entities born out of some Lovecraft novels could do the trick). angels. is imagined as neither public nor repeatable would become a manifold of a diﬀerent kind: a sound made of pitch. If we are able to do so. The same holds for immanent lived experiences. In other words. survives the destruction of a fragile manifold. 18. disappear as manifolds of a certain variety (things) and are transformed in or replaced by examples of manifolds of a diﬀerent variety (imaginary quasi-individuals). At this point.
Not even the rizomata pantos. and bring to appearance what Husserl in Thing and Space called a “Gewühl” of sensations. the distinction between hetero-constituted and self-constituted manifolds does not overlap with that between consciousness and real world suggested by Husserl. odd claim. breaking the laws of their unity. but their contingency lies at the borders of meaningfulness itself. It can also get temporarily lost. which one might be tempted to take as substitutes for the ill-famed fundamentum inconcussum. The only diﬀerence is between that which ends its meaningful appearance 39. Both cases however show how variation. 288. political groups but also minds. Time consciousness without the living present or the living present without impression/ pro-tension/re-tension. as such. that I am not sure whether the question of who or what brings about the constitution still has any meaning as a problem for phenomenology. 40. in other words. Obviously. far from being the name of a simple methodological technicality. as something sayable. As for the selfconstituted “sturdy” manifolds. And from a more general point of view. continuous imaginary variations dissolve the manifold into its constitutive multiplicities. It nevertheless allows for a radically diﬀerent way of understanding that distinction’s meaning and scope. And I have to confess. it is meaningful only as expression. although a manifold of diﬀerent varieties. As for the rest. I would suggest that the importance of constitution should be linked to the idea of the structural contingency of every kind of unity whose essence is revealed by means of the peculiar ways in which its loss can be imagined. are far from being “unshaken. Hua XVI. Husserl’s notion of constitution should in fact be understood as gesturing toward a very peculiar formulation of the theory of forms according to which what is constituted are not just objects but varieties of manifolds. “retention without primal impression” is something that can only be said—a catchy expression for philosophers in search of inspiration: and. .MULTIPLICITY. More precisely. Nothing is solid enough to be immune to the conﬂicts imagined by the variation. it is not diﬃcult to see how equating sturdy manifolds and the roots of appearing is a rather fascinating and. namely contingent unities-of-multiplicities of which one can imagine the annihilation and the consequent relative loss of meaning through variation. which is less than a world but more than nothing. is not just unimaginable or unexperiencable—it is plain and simply meaningless. Or.” whether ﬁrm or solid. and theories are therefore less constructions than constituted manifolds in this very precise sense. institutions. MANIFOLDS AND VARIETIES OF CONSITUTION 181 another manifold.40 Among these we can distinguish hetero-constituted “fragile” manifolds.39 But Sinn cannot survive the attempt— which necessarily must fail—of the de-constitution of a sturdy manifold. that truly understood constitution should be understood in terms of manifolds and their variations. What is especially odd is in particular the idea that self-constituted manifolds. Physical objects. when. But that is a minor loss. if ever meaningful. they are contingent as well. completes constitution. at the same time. living persons.
they are also. promises of new. of subjectivity. Within the phenomenological framework. And it is precisely this conceptual inventiveness fostered by Husserl. that is the telos of fulﬁllment. statements that. and pure and simple Sinnlosigkeit. Let us attempt to formulate a conclusion. time. might justify the somewhat awkward idea behind this manifesto. and that which simply disappears. was not to provide a better and more insightful understanding of the world. 12. Let me simply restate. diﬀerent intuitions. as it were. joined with what we may call the potential of the concept of “constituted manifold” to modify our ordinary accounts of phenomenology. or even against what is usually believed or held—concepts that in their categorically expressed forms make us see the world. new concepts are not just new concepts. the task of phenomenology. Each new concept brings not only a new conception but also the chance of seeing things otherwise. I do not think I have “interpreted” Husserl but rather have taken him quite seriously. provide anticipations for possible intuitions. that. Once intuitively fulﬁlled. in turn.182 CLAUDIO MAJOLINO in turning into something else. Concepts. are involved in linguistically expressed judgements. the sensibility to variations. and the like. but to fabricate new concepts—counter-natural and para-doxical. namely statement. Has our obstacle course actually led to a suﬃciently unzeitgemäß picture of phenomenology? It is hard to tell. so to speak. as Husserl put it. in my view. But while such a Husserlian idea is usually brought within the heuristic framework of a theory of knowledge. In fact. Obviously each reader must judge for his or her self. between the passage from one Sinn to another. that as far as I am concerned. of time. in-actual “calling” of philosophy as such. Phenomenology tells us that inventing philosophical concepts is never a mere “theoretical” exercise. and the like. To see what concepts only promise to make you see. in the sense of something that goes beyond common and philosophical opinion. . otherwise. as constantly practiced by Husserl. statements make us see what they are about precisely as it is conceivable according to the relevant concepts involved. I take it as an indication of the. perception. subjectivity. by way of a conclusion. perception.
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